Gurusaday Road, Ballygunge Circular Road, Salt Lake and the EM Bypass may have the buzz. But they don’t stand a chance in front of Alipore, which has retained its charm amidst the unbridled vertical growth of the city.
The entire area is dotted by rows of bungalows with high walls, shielding their rich and famous inmates from the public gaze. Many parts are even out of bounds for public transport. What adds to the ambience is the Command Hospital’s agri-horticultural garden and a canopy of trees.
Alipore became a favoured zone way back in the mid-18th century when British Governor-General Warren Hastings set up residence in the Belvedere Estate in Kolkata.
Well-heeled businessmen soon followed him. Jalan House, Jindal Mansion, Goenka Nivas and Bangur House all sit on Alipore Road. As does the Mittal mansion.
Belvedere Road houses the bungalow of the Superintendent of Police and District Magistrate of South 24 Parganas.
There seems to be little room for further housing projects at present and the entire area — about 2.5 sq km — has almost remained unchanged as most of the area has remained out of bounds for real estate developers.
Sambhu, who owns a soft drink shop on Belvedere Road says: “At night, you can even hear the distant roar of a lion or a tiger in the Alipore Zoo. Nothing much has changed here, except my shop, which was earlier just a paan shop. You have to change with the times.”
Real estate prices in Alipore have always remained out of reach for most in the city, at Rs 12,000 per square foot. Only Ballygunge Circular Road (Rs 9,500) comes close.